Best of 2009

Berrien Henderson, with Farrago Et Al., has listed his 2009 Best list and I’m honored to be included within a fantastic listing of authors:

In no particular order and off the top of my congested head, . . .

Mari Ness, Rae Bryant, Elizabeth Bear, Adrienne J. Odasso, Cat Rambo, Tanith Lee, Camille Alexa, Francesca Forrest (whose LJ I am absolutely in *love* with because she ought to merge her photography skills and lyricism into some niche coffee table photojournal of specfic love).

Not to leave out the dudes:

Nick Mamatas, Jay Lake, Joe Hill, Mike Allen, Marshall Payne, T.J. McIntyre, Paul Abbamondi, S. Boyd Taylor, some hack named Hemingway.”

As lazy and convenient as it might be — yes, I know — I really must second Berrien’s recommendations of my list mates with the additional cringe at my own appreciation of Hemingway’s manly manness, but “Hills Like White Elephants” is sublime as is The Sun Also Rises. Gertrude Stein is rolling in her grave. Sorry Gertrude, I can’t help myself. Another addition to the list of classic appreciations is Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter and Viriginia Woolf Orlando, To the Lighthouse — and Eurydice‘s works. EHMH is a wild ride as are most of her works. I also read Jeanette Winterson. I found her to be a fresh voice, lyrical and playful.

Had the pleasure of reading Jeff VanderMeer in my graduate reading during fall term — Experimental Fiction class, taught by Richard Peabody, co-editor of Gargoyle (a fantastic publication) and staffer at Johns Hopkins. Among our many readings, we read a fabulist — yes, that’s fabulist, though it is fabulous, too — anthology, Paraspheres: Extending Beyond the Spheres of Literary and Genre Fiction: Fabulist and New Wave Fabulist Stories edited by Rusty Morrison and Ken Keegan. Found a few works in there that I really enjoyed. In addition to VanderMeer, also featured in this anthology were authors, Ursusla Le Guin, Michael Moorcock, Karen Heuler, Angela Carter . . . . Fun. A new one, Paraspheres 2, edited by the same wife/husband team through their publishing company, Omnidawn, is set to release January 2010. I highly recommend checking this out.

As much as I enjoyed Paraspheres, I enjoyed Magical Realist Fiction edited by David Young and Keith Hollaman even more. This anthology, though not published in 2009, was probably my favorite read of all year. Marquez, Borges, Gogol, Welty, Woolf, Cheever, Bombal . . . let me count the ways. This anthology is a must read for anyone writing in the slips or lovers of magic realism.

Mind-alteringingly, I devoured Chick-Lit: Postfeminist Fiction edited by Cris Mazza and Jeffrey DeShell and Chick-Lit II: No Chick Vics edited by Cris Mazza, Jeffrey DeShell and Elisabeth Sheffield. These anthologies are not the sap romance that has become the “chick lit” most know. Mazza, DeShell and Sheffield, first to coin the chick-lit attribution, include in these anthologies tales of postfeminist stories from ballsy women — Aker, Eurydice, Maso, Meads, Levine . . . .  And for anyone uncertain of what postfeminist might mean as compared to feminist, I’ll offer my two amateurish cents. Postfeminist moves beyond, though not entirely segregated from, the blame-the-big-bad-male Victorian theories. Instead, it discusses and explores both sexes, their interactions, and finally the choices each individual makes in her and/or his life, female and male, and how these choices, and ultimately these responsibilities, impact the gender, female, and all it might encompass (i.e. expectations, roles and breaking outs, so to speak).

And if anyone is unsure — yes, that is a penis sticking out of the woman’s head on the Chick Lit II cover [blue].

This year, I’ve also had the pleasure of reading Aliette de Bodard‘s “Golden Lilies” at Fantasy Magazine. This story was fantastic both in language and context as was Berrien Henderson’s “The Girl in the Green Sequined Dress,” which I will add to my Best of List. Berrien will not speak to his own talent, so I will. Lovely.

I would be amiss if I did not direct everyone’s attentions to The Original Magazine of the Unique and Bizarre, Weird Tales, 2009 Hugo Winner, edited by Stephen H. Segal and Ann VanderMeer. Every time I get my greedy little hands on a copy either proofing drafts or enjoying the beautifully designed finished product, it sends thrills and chills. The Fall 2009 Weird Tales is now available, complete with an Edgar Allan Poe tribute and zombies!

Below are a few more fantastic reads this year, though none of them were published in 2009. Heh. Still, the habit of classic anthologies and retro-reading, both, have the benefit of time. They give us the creme de la creme over a course of a few years.

Okay, I’ll stop there, though I could go on and on and on . . . . Happy New Year to all and happy reading.